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A Word Or Two About Leverage

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A Word Or Two About Leverage

Colleen McCloskey photo.

Various organizations within USA Rugby have some form of leverage.

NCR has a potential membership pool of 15,000, and a large percentage of that pool is happy to play rugby within their own competitive group. Thus, the potential threat from USA Rugby to ban cross-divisional play between NCR teams and non-NCR teams carries little weight with those teams.

And, NCR's 15,000 or so members represent almost $500,000 of lost dues gross income for USA Rugby. In that case, NCR seems to have the leverage, because there's not a lot USA Rugby can do to punish them.

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However, if things keep going (or, more accurately, not going) as they are, and teams don't play, they won't be paying for membership for either organization. This will hit NCR harder, because it depends almost exclusively on membership dollars to employ its staff. So NCR can feel it can't be touched by USA Rugby's potential sanctions, but it is also on the clock to get some dues income coming in. The leverage, therefore, for NCR is finite.

USA Rugby has touted (off the record, but still they've said it) their assertion that if you're a part of an organization that isn't in good standing with USA Rugby, then you won't be allowed to tour outside the country. Is this correct? Well we checked without sponsor, Irish Rugby Tours. According to Managing Director George Hook, USA Rugby could well be correct.

In his experience, said Hook, the Irish Rugby Football Union, and the RFU in England, both expect a touring team to have the permission of its home union, and to be in good standing with it s home union. They do want that documentation, and Irish Rugby Tours has to provide it. So, yes, USA Rugby does have that leverage of authority. Might that be challenged in the courts? Quite possibly.

And then there's numbers. If a group that's big enough, 10,000, 20,000, or 40,000 members, breaks away, would that force USA Rugby to change its tune? Unity of numbers, and big enough numbers, could be enough to shift the balance of power.